Bruins

Julien tweaks Bruins' lines again at Tuesday's practice

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Julien tweaks Bruins' lines again at Tuesday's practice

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Claude Julien mixed up the Bruins' lines in the third period of Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and he changed them up again at Tuesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena.

Marc Savard was reunited with Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton was added to the duo's right wing. Julien also reunited the line of David Krejci, Michael Ryder, and Blake Wheeler. The trio was the team's most productive offensive line two years ago, when the Bruins were the top team in the Eastern Conference.

"You've got to try and find some solutions here, so we moved some people around and let's see if that can happen," said Julien, when asked if he hopes Krejci's line can continue what it started two seasons ago. "If it happens, great, because they were pretty successful then. And maybe we see that again."

Wheeler seemed pretty excited, after Tuesday's practice, about getting the opportunity to get the old line back together.

"I think when you struggle to score goals, it's easy to go back to the well, and say, 'You know what, we've had some success,' " said Wheeler. "So it's kind of natural to put us back together.

"We've played together so much these last few years, that we know where we're going to be when we're on the ice. We know what to expect."

All three had their highest totals, as members of the Bruins, two seasons ago, while playing together. Ryder had 27 goals and 26 assists. Wheeler had 21 goals and 24 assists. And Krejci had 22 goals and 51 assists.

"Krejci's a really fun guy to play with, because you know if you're in space, and there's an opportunity to get the puck, then you're going to get it," said Wheeler. "So more than anything, you just want to be ready to shoot, and have your stick on the ice at all times, because sometimes he sees you when you're not even expecting it."

Tyler Seguin was back skating with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on Tuesday. Julien had moved Seguin to the line in the third period of Monday night's loss. It was the first line that Seguin played with, in the preseason, as a member of the Bruins, and by all accounts, it was a success at that point.

Seguin was removed from Bergeron's wing, in order to play center while Savard missed the first two months dealing with post-concussion syndrome.

Grinder Brad Marchand (stiffness) was missing once again from Bruins practice on Tuesday, while defenseman Steven Kampfer was present, after taking getting hit awkwardly into the boards on Monday night.

"Kampfer's not 100 percent, but he's OK," said Julien after the skate. "He's good enough to come out and practice today."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

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Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.

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“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

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